This bird is dependent on the continued existence of old growth forests in Southeast Asia. Outside the breeding season, it eats a wide variety of fruits, supplemented with small animals while it raises chicks. The nest is a deep hole in a tall tree into which the female is sealed by the male, with a cement-like mixture of mud, feces and fruit; she remains inside for weeks. Except for their eye color (males have red eyes and females have white eyes), males and females look alike. Not bred in captivity until 1986, this species is now managed as an international zoo population.
Found from Mexico to Argentina, this brilliantly-colored kingfisher relative is the only one of the nine members of the Tropical American motmot family to be widely kept in zoos, where many have bred. Eggs are laid in burrows dug in the earth. The remarkable pendulum-like tail develops normally at first, but parts of two feathers are shed as they develop, resulting in “racquets”. The strange name may be derived from this bird’s whooping calls.